Looking to visit Hoover Dam on your next trip to the Vegas strip? Read on to find out the best tips on how to plan your tour.
Intro to Hoover Dam
One of the greatest man-made structures in history, the magnificent Hoover Dam stands tall as a crowning human achievement both in construction and engineering. An arch-gravity dam made mostly of concrete, it straddles the border between the US states of Arizona and Nevada.
In this piece, we are going to delve into the history behind its construction and look at a few tips to help you make the most of your time at the dam.
Fun Facts: Hoover Dam was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the years of the infamous great depression. Those dire financial circumstances could have truncated the project, but as a result of Roosevelt’s doggedness and general shrewd planning, the dam saw completion. Also, it was originally named Boulder Dam but was renamed in 1947 to Hoover Dam in honor of President Herbert Hoover.
Events Leading up to its Construction
The need for the construction of a dam on the American Southwest’s Colorado River was felt as early as the 1890s, as crude attempts were made to build canals that diverted water from the river for irrigation purposes. These canals were much smaller and expensive to operate and as such, the US government decided to construct a large dam to allow for irrigation at a larger scale.
At the dawn of the 20th century, the US government began inquiries into the ability of the Black Canyon and Boulder Canyon to support a dam that could withstand and hold back heavy floods, produce hydroelectric power, and provide wide-scale irrigation to its surrounding towns and cities. Having authorized the project in 1928, congress awarded its construction to a little-known consortium named Six Companies, Inc.
Building the Dam
It is important to note that before the Hoover Dam was constructed, the world had never witnessed the successful completion of a civil construction project of such magnitude. Many of the technologies that went into its construction were cutting-edge, untested, and unproven at the time. To boot, the area’s sweltering summer heat and a lack of facilities at the site were obstacles that the construction company had to overcome whilst constructing the dam.
The construction of Hoover Dam alone brought development to many towns and small cities in Nevada. As soon as the project was given the go-ahead, large swathes of unemployed job-seekers converged on Southern Nevada. As a result, the government established a camp for workers like surveyors, metalworkers, and engineers near the proposed dam site. The “squatters’ camp” as it came to be known housed thousands of workers that arrived at the site with their families, looking for employment to work on the dam.
In fact, the US government, as part of the project that was handed over to Six Companies, Inc., stated that the consortium had to develop the nearby Boulder City for the dam’s workers. All in all, employment numbers for the project peaked at 5,251 in 1934.
Despite all of the material constraints that accompanied the project and the estimated 112 lives lost during its construction, Hoover Dam was dedicated in September 1935 and officially handed over in March 1936 – a full two years ahead of schedule.
A New-Age Tourist Attraction
Since the turn of the millennium, Hoover Dam has emerged as a popular tourist attraction and hotspot. This is due to its gargantuan size and the fact that it forms a barrier holding in Lake Mead, the largest water reservoir in the United States (and another tourist attraction in its own right).
How to Get the Most Out of Your Visit.
Most travel websites advise that you rent a car for the period that you’ll be visiting the dam. You can drive along the Hoover Bridge exit off US 93 and travel along the old road in less than a day – seeing all of the important sites at once. Since the Hoover Dam is just 33 miles (or a roughly 45-minute drive) from the Las Vegas strip, you can combine a visit to both places into one.
Hoover Dam FAQ’s
Is there parking?
Yes. If you go with a vehicle, you can park at the provided lots for roughly $10. If you’d like, you could also drive across the dam, park in the Arizona-side lots, and walk the short distance back.
How much does it cost to see the dam?
The USBR provides a succinct information on the ticket costs to see the dam. It is $15 per person for adults (age 17-61), $12 for seniors (age 62+), $12 for minors, and $12 for military personnel.
How Much Annual Electricity Does it Generate?
Anesthetic as well as functional edifice, the Hoover Dam generates roughly four billion kilowatt-hours of power every year. This electricity powers the homes and offices of more than 1.3 million people across Nevada, Arizona, and California
What is the Best Place to Visit at The Dam?
Memorial Plaza stands out in this regard, offering the best vantage point from which to view the towering Hoover Dam and expansive Lake Mead. There are stairs (albeit a lot!) and ramps leading up to the plaza, making it accessible to everyone. Best of all, it’s free!
Hoover Dam stands as one of the testaments to America’s greatness as a 20th-century power. Aside from the visually-pleasing experience that comes with visiting the dam, it also serves as a reminder of the heritage of our great nation.